I have enjoyed many discussions about products and marketing lately, and yesterday on a Skype call with Charlie, Dennis and David I said, "hang on, marketing is a mixed bag". Now I owe them an explanation, so here's a simplified take on three different schools of marketing:
1) The MBA
Aka. The Long and Incomprehensible paragraph approach - "Identify a subset of account in each vertical will be proactively covered and controlled by us".
"Go to market" is the rallying cry, market research, statistics and many meetings the tools. Design to avoid offending anybody, set clear goals like "37.8% of this subset of that segment using that channel in precisely 18.7 months".
Usual results: Exceedingly bland products, wrong target as nobody really understood questions asked by market research, but sometimes nice cup holders if applied to the automotive industry. And of course channel stuffing and similar to pretend the budgets had any value at all.
Example: Take a field trip to Detroit.
2) The Circus Act
Aka. This is A Cool Product, bugger the nay-sayers and let's have some fun.
"Wow" is the rallying cry, public stunts, good stories and extremely "cute" and confusing brochures the tools. Design so 90% hates you because then for sure 10% will love you, and that's better than 100% shrugging their shoulder. Budgets are for wimps.
Usual results: No usual results. Interesting products, some fly, some don't, and we the consumers are richer for it while some investors chew off their arms while others pop Champagne corks. And even burn-and-crash is entertaining to see, so the users win whatever the outcome.
3) The conversation
"Hello?" is the rallying cry, wikis, blogs, twitter, parties and anything social are the tools. Design with the users, spend much time in blind alleys but get there if you have enough time, funds and never used glue when building product.
Usual results: Like DIY projects; some I use all the time, some I liked to tinker with but never use. Successes and failures, but no crowd pleasing crash-and-burns as early pull-the-plug is easy.
Example: Take a field trip with your browser.
Big question - which is the best?
I think I would choose a hybrid of 2 and 3 - an "Interactive Circus Act", an "inspire and include" approach.
Which is your choice?